England and Wales’s foreign-born population rises by 2.5 million in a decade

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LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) – The number of people living in England and Wales who were born overseas reached 10 million in 2021, up from 7.5 million a decade earlier, official census figures showed.

People who were born overseas but are now resident in England and Wales account for 16.8% of the two areas’ population of 59.6 million, up from 13.4% in 2011, Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

In London, 40.6% of the population was born overseas, up from 36.7% in 2011.

England and Wales’s population rose by a total of 3.5 million between the 2011 and 2021 census, and changes due to net migration accounted for the majority of net population growth over the period, the ONS figures showed.

Public concerns about rapid, unchecked migration from the European Union were one of the major factors behind Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the EU.

Since then, concerns about migration have eased according to opinion polls. Other official data suggests overall migration has not slowed much since restrictions on EU migrants came into force at the start of 2021, but the composition has shifted markedly to migrants from outside the EU.

Tuesday’s census data showed that people born in India were the biggest group of foreign-born nationals, numbering 920,000 or 1.5% of the population of England and Wales.

The most common non-UK passport is Polish – held by 760,000 people or 1.3% of the population – while the biggest increase was in the number of people born in Romania, which rose by 576% in the space of a decade to 539,000, the ONS said.

Other nationalities in the top five included people born in Pakistan and Ireland.

EU nationals made up 36.4% of foreign-born residents in England and Wales in 2021, up from 32.7% in 2011 and 30.0% in 2001.

Figures for Britain as a whole are not yet available, after Scotland’s pro-independence government delayed carrying out a census until earlier this year, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporting by David Milliken, editing by Andy Bruce

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